PHOTOS: The Distressing Worldwide Boom in Cosmetic Surgery- page 6 | People & Places | Smithsonian
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(Zed Nelson / Institute)

PHOTOS: The Distressing Worldwide Boom in Cosmetic Surgery

Photographer Zed Nelson traveled the world documenting how body improvement has practically become a new religion

Leg Elongation

Leg shortening
(Zed Nelson / Institute)

As cosmetic surgery has become more common, new uses for established procedures have emerged. In China, the Ilizarov procedure—which was originally developed to lengthen the legs of dwarves—has become popular for people who simply want to be taller (an Ilizarov procedure in Beijing). By severing the shinbones and stretching them apart with an implanted metal frame, up to three new inches of leg bone can be grown, but the operation comes with risks of deformation and weakened muscles.

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